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Back to Unedited Philosophy Quotes and Ramblings about Intequinism.

Author: ROBERTS; J.M.

Year: 1995. 

Title: The Penguin History of the World.

Place: London, England

Publisher: Penguin Group, 3rd edition.



Title: Thus Spake Zarathustra

Author: Friedrich Nietzsche

Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Limited

Place: Hertfordshire

Year: 1997

Translator: Thomas Common


3 December 2016

"The hour when we say: 'What good is my pity! Is not pity the cross on which he is nailed who loveth man? But my pity is not a crucifixion.'" (Nietzsche 1997: 7)


"Yahweh had already created the chaos itself. He was for Israel what was later described in the Christian creed, 'maker of all things, by whom all things are made'. Moreover, he made Man in his own image, as a companion, not as a slave; Man was the culmination and supreme revelation of His creative power, a creature able to know good from evil, as did Yahweh Himself. Finally, Man moved in a moral world set by Yahweh's own nature. Only He was just; man-made laws might or might not reflect His will, but He was the only author of right and justice." (Roberts 1995: 107)


16 December 2016

"In the profound and prolonged social and political crisis of the last, decaying centuries of the Chou and the Period of Warring States (433-221 BC), there was a burst of speculation about the foundations of government and ethics. The era was to remain famous as the time of the 'Hundred Schools', when wandering scholars moved about from patron to patron, expounding their teaching. One sign of this new development was the appearance of a school of writers known as the 'Legalists'. They urged that law-making power should replace ritual observances as the principle of organization of the state; there should be one law for all [universal law/love?: own insert], ordained and vigorously applied by one ruler. The aim of this was the creation of a wealthy and powerful state. This seemed to many of their opponents to be little more than a cynical doctrine of power, but the Legalists were to have important successes in the next few centuries because kings, at least, liked their ideas. The debate went on for a long time. In this debate the main opponents of the Legalists were the followers of the teacher who is the most famous of all Chinese thinkers, Confucius." (Roberts 1995: 139)

This quote could make it seem as if Confucius opposed Love, but on the other hand, Confucius, according to his biography, believed in the idea of not doing to others like selves want not to be done to. It could be thus, Confucius opposed the idea of writing laws for Love, because of Love's logical universal nature, which does not need written law to explain the logic, if comprehended.

"the teaching of Mo-Tzu, a fifth-century [BC] thinker, who preached an active creed of universal altruism; men were to love strangers like their own kinsmen." (Roberts 1995: 141)

Lao-Tse, another great teacher (though one whose vast fame conceals the fact that we know virtually nothing about him), was supposed to be the author of the text which is the key document of the philosophical system later called Taoism. This was much more obviously competitive with Confucianism, for it advocated the positive neglect of much that Confucianism upheld; respect for the established [published: own insert] order, decorum and scrupulous observance of tradition and ceremonial, for example. ... Still another and later sage, the fourth century [BC?] Mencius, taught men to seek the welfare of mankind. (Roberts 1995: 141)

"What he [Confucius] said -- or was said to have said -- shaped his countrymen's thinking for two thousand years and was to be paid the compliment of bitter attack by the first post-Confucian Chinese state, the Marxist republic of the twentieth century." (Roberts 1995: 139)

"The mapping of knowledge by systematic questioning of the mind about the nature and extent of its own powers was not to be a characteristic activity of Chinese philosophers. This does not mean they inclined to other-worldliness and fantasy, for Confucianism was emphatically practical. Unlike the ethical sages of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, those of China tended always to turn to the here and now, to pragmatic and secular questions, rather than to theology and metaphysics." (Roberts 1995: 140)


23 December 2016

"Attacks on Athenian democracy began in early times and have continued ever since. They have embodied as much historical misrepresentation as have over-zealous and idealizing defences of the same institutions. The misgivings of frightened conservatives who had never seen anything like it before are understandable, for democracy emerged at Athens unexpectedly and at first almost unobserved. Its roots lay in sixth-century constitutional changes which replaced the organizing principle of kinship with that of locality; in theory and law, at least, local attachment came to be more important than the family you belonged to. This was a development which appears to have been general in Greece and it put democracy on the localized institutional basis which it has usually had ever since." (Roberts 1995: 189)

"If civilization is advance towards the control of mentality and environment by reason, then the Greeks did more for it than any of their predecessors. They invented the philosophical question as part and parcel of one of the great intuitions of all time, that a coherent and logical explanation of things could be found, that the world did not ultimately rest upon the meaningless and arbitrary fiat of gods or demons." (Roberts 1995: 192)

"It was at Athens, too, that public opinion was convulced, on the eve of the Sicilian Expedition, by the mysterious and ominous mutilation of certain public statues, the 'Hermae', or busts of Hermes. The disasters which followed were attributed by some to this sacrilege. Socrates the Athenian philosopher who became, thanks to his pupil Plato, the archetypal figure of the man of intellect, and left as a maxim the view that 'the unexamined life is not worth living', offended the pieties of his state and was condemned to die for it by his fellow-citizens; he was also condemned for questioning received astronomy. It does not seem that similar trials took place elsewhere, but they imply a background of popular superstition which must have been more typical of the Greek community than the presence of a Socrates." (Roberts 1995: 193)


25 December 2016

"For most of the fifth century Carthage troubled the western Greeks no  more and the Syracusans were able to turn to supporting the Greek cities of Italy against the Etruscans. Then Syracuse was the target of the ill-fated Sicilian Expedition from Athens (415-413 BC) because she was the greatest of the Western Greek states. (Roberts 1995: 217)

Plato's two visits to Syracuse when he tutored Dionysios II, were dated as 388/7 and 367/6 BC. (Lomas 2005: 34) Socrates committed suicide 399 BC. ( on 25 Dec 2016)


26 December 2016

"Hannibal had to follow them to meet his defeat at Zama in 202 BC, the end of the war...Because Syracuse had once more allied with Carthage during the war, her presumption was punished by the loss of her independence; she was the last Greek state in the island. All Sicily was now Roman, as was southern Spain, where another province was set up...Through Macedon, that world had already been involved directly in the wars of Italy, for Macedon had allied with Carthage; Rome had therefore taken the side of Greek cities opposed to Macedon and thus began to dabble in Greek politics." (Roberts 1995: 226) "Finally, the chance long sought by the enemies of Carthage came in 149 BC with the start of the third and last Punic War. Three years later the city was destroyed, ploughs were run over its site and a new Roman province, Africa, existed in its stead." (Roberts 1995: 227)


28 December 2016

"With the ending of Persian rule, the age of Alexander's heirs brought new problems. After being ruled by the Ptolemies, the Jews eventually passed to the Seleucids. The social behaviour and thinking of the upper classes underwent the influence of Hellenization; this sharpened divisions by exaggerating contrasts of wealth and differences between townsmen and countrymen. It also separated the priestly families from the people, who remained firmly in the tradition of the Law and the Prophets, as expounded in the synagogues. It was against a king of Hellenistic Syria, Antiochus, and cultural 'westernization' approved by the priests, but resented as have been such processes in modern times by the people, that the great Maccabean revolt broke out (168-164 BC). Antiochus had tried to go too fast; not content with the steady erosion of Jewish insularity by Hellenistic civilization and the friction of example, he had interfered with Jewish rites and profaned the Temple. After the revolt had been repressed with difficulty (and guerrilla war went on long after), a more conciliatory policy was resumed by the Seleucid kings. It did not satisfy many Jews, who in 142 BC were able to take advantage of a favourable set of circumstances to win an independence which was to last for nearly eighty years. Then, in 63 BC, Pompey imposed Roman rule and there disappeared the last independent Jewish state in the near East for nearly two thousand years.

Independence had not been a happy experience. A succession of kings drawn from the priestly families had thrown the country into disorder by innovation and high-handedness. They and the priests who acquiesced in their policies excited opposition. They were challenged in their authority by a new, more austere, school of interpreters, who clung to the Law, rather than the cult, as the heart of Judaism and gave it new and searchingly rigorous interpretation. These were the Pharisees, the representatives of a reforming strain which was time and time again to express itself in Jewry in protest against the danger of creeping Hellenization. They also accepted proselytism among non-Jews, teaching a belief in the resurrection of the dead and a divine Last Judgement; there was a mixture in their stance of national and universal aspiration and they drew out further the implications of Jewish monotheism."  (Roberts 1995: 253)


29 December 2016

"The doctrine that Paul taught was new. He rejected the Law (as Jesus had never done), and strove to reconcile the essentially Jewish ideas at the heart of Jesus's teaching with the conceptual world of the Greek language." (Roberts 1995: 260)


30 December 2016

"Only over blood-sacrifice did Christianity draw the line between itself and the pagan past unambiguously; much other pagan practice and reminiscence it simply christened.

The process by which this came about has often been seen as one of decline and there are certainly reasonable arguments to be made to that effect. In material terms, barbarian Europe was an economically poorer place than the empire of the Antonines; all over Europe tourists gape still at the monuments of Rome's builders as our barbarian predecessors must have done. Yet out of this confusion something quite new and immeasurably more creative than Rome would emerge in due course. It was perhaps impossible for contemporaries to view what was happening in anything but apocalyptic terms. But some may have seen just a little beyond this, as the concerns of Gregory suggest." (Roberts 1995: 303)

"Sassanid Persia was a religious as well as a political unity. Zoroastrianism had been formally restored by Ardashir [Artaxerxes], who gave important privileges to its priests, the magi. They led in due course to political power as well. Priests confirmed the divine nature of the kingship, had important judicial duties, and came, too, to supervise the collection of the land-tax which was the basis of Persian finance. The doctrines they taught seem to have varied considerably from the strict monotheism attributed to Zoroaster but focused on a creator, Ahura Mazda, whose viceroy on earth was the king. The Sassanids' promotion of the state religion was closely connected with the assertion of their own authority. ... In 276 a Persian religious teacher called Mani was executed - by the particularly agonizing method of being flayed alive. He was to become known in the West under the Latin form of his name, Manichaeus, and the teaching attributed to him had a great feature as a Christian heresy. Manichaeism brought together Judaeo-Christian beliefs and Persian mysticism and saw the whole cosmos as a great drama in which the forces of Light and Darkness struggled for domination." (Roberts 1995: 308)


3 January 2017

"Crowned by the patriarch of Constantinople, the emperor had the enormous authority, but also the responsibilities, of God's representative upon earth ... Appropriately most of the early Christian emperors were canonized - just as pagan emperors had been deified." (Roberts 1995: 334)

Under Leo IV and Irene, his widow, persecution was relaxed and the 'iconophiles' (lovers of icons) recovered ground, though this was followed by renewed persecution. Only in 843, on the first Sunday of Lent, a day still celebrated as a feast of Orthodoxy in the eastern Church, were the icons finally restored." (Roberts 1995: 343)

"As well as a prudent step towards placating an angry God, therefore, iconoclasm represented a reaction of centralized authority, that of emperor and bishops, against local pieties, the independence of cities and monasteries, and the cults of holy men ... The iconoclast synod of bishops had been an affront to the papacy, which had already condemned Leo's supporters. Rome viewed with alarm the emperor's pretensions to act in spiritual matters. Thus iconoclasm drove deeper the division between the two halves of Christendom" (Roberts 1995: 344)


10 January 2017

"At this remote spot on the south-eastern coast of the Black Sea in 1461 the world of Greek cities made possible by the conquest of Alexander the Great gave its last gasp. It marked an epoch as decisively as the fall of Constantinople, which a humanist pope bewailed as 'the second death of Homer and Plato'." (Roberts 1995: 375)


11 January 2017

"Life centered on the soil, and aristocrats were successful warriors turned landowners. From this base, the Franks began the colonization of Germany, protected by the Church and hardened and passed on a tradition of kingship whose origins lay somewhere in the magical powers of the Merovingian rulers. ... Frankish ways and institutions did not help. After Clovis, though there was dynastic continuity, a succession of impoverished and therefore feeble kings led to more independence for landed aristocrats, who warred with one another; they had the wealth which could buy power. One family from Austrasia came to overshadow the Merovingian royal line. It produced Charles Martel, the soldier who turned the Arabs back at Tours in 732 and the supporter of St Boniface, the Evangelizer of Rome." (Roberts 1995: 381)

"The Papacy had a new basis for independence. Nor did the new magic of anointing benefit only kings. Though it could replace or blur mysteriously with the old Merovingian thaumaturgy and raise kings above common men in more than their power, the pope gained the subtle implication of authority latent in the power to bestow the sacral oil." (Roberts 1995: 383)


Oxford Dictionary:

"thaumaturge |ˈθɔːmətəːdʒ|

noun a worker of wonders and performer of miracles; a magician."


15 January 2017

"Intellectually, too, the Gupta era was a great one. It was in the fifth century that Indian arithmeticians invented the decimal system." (Roberts 1995: 415)


"The disciplines of austerity and contemplation Gautama had taught were now increasingly confined to a minority of orthodox Buddhists, the followers of Mahayana winning conversions among the masses. One sign of this was the proliferation in the first and second centuries AD of statues and representations of the Buddha, a practice hitherto restrained by the Buddha's prohibition of idol-worship." (Roberts 1995: 417)


16 January 2016

"The main point is clear. Somehow, a lack of interest in the utilization of invention was rooted in the Confucian social system which, unlike that of Europe, did not regard as respectable association between the gentleman and the technician." (Roberts 1995: 448) This view by Roberts can be doubted if my discussions at alt.taoism on the Internet is considered because the disrespect for innovation seems already entrenched in the Taoist views, which was relevant before Confucius lived.

"Pride in a great cultural tradition long continued to make it very hard to recognize its inadequacies. This made learning from foreigners - all barbarians, in Chinese eyes - very difficult. To make things worse, Chinese morality prescribed contempt for the soldier and for military skills. (Roberts 1995: 448)


"Gradually there emerged a fusion of the style of the high nobility with the austere virtues of the samurai warrior which was to run through Japanese life down to the present day. Buddhism also left a visible mark on the Japanese landscape in its temples and the great statues of the Buddha himself." (Roberts 1995: 454)


24 January 2017

"After 1500 or so, there are many signs that a new age of world history is beginning. Some of them have already appeared in these pages; the discoveries in the Americas and the first shoots of European enterprise in Asia are among them. At the outset they provide hints about the dual nature of a new age - that it is increasingly an age of truly world history and that it is one whose story is dominated by the astonishing success of one civilization among many, that of Europe." (Roberts 1995: 527)


27 January 2017

"In 1500 Europe had about eighty million inhabitants, two centuries later she had less than one hundred and fifty million and in 1800 slightly less than two hundred million. Before 1750 Europe had grown fairly steadily at a rate which maintained her share of the world's population at about one-fifth until 1700 or so, but by 1800 she had nearly a quarter of the world's inhabitants... At birth a French peasant of the eighteenth century had a life expectancy of about twenty-two years and only a roughly one in four chance of surviving infancy. His chances were therefore much the same as those of an Indian peasant in 1950 or an Italian under imperial Rome... Generally, though, if Europeans were well-off they could afford a fairly large family; the poor had smaller ones." (Roberts 1995: 531)


12 February 2017

"The essence of the civilization Europe was exporting to the rest of the globe lay in ideas... What is more, although the twentieth century has done great damage to them, the leading ideas adumbrated by Europeans between 1500 and 1800 still provide most of the guide-posts by which we make our way. European culture was then given a secular foundation; .. Finally it was then that there grew up a confidence that scientific knowledge used in accordance with utilitarian criteria would make possible limitless progress." (Roberts 1995: 649)


Freemasonry was one of the organisations, which focussed on and discussed new ideas. It spread from England to continental Europe during the 1720s and expanded fast. By 1789 there may have been a quarter of a million masons. (Roberts 1995: 651)

"Early in the seventeenth century something new is already apparent in science. The changes which then manifested themselves meant that an intellectual barrier was crossed and the nature of civilization was altered for ever. There appeared in Europe a new attitude, deeply utilitarian, encouraging men to invest time, energy and resources to master nature by systematic experiment." (Roberts 1995: 655)


13 February 2017

"Neopolitan Bruno.  He was not a scientist but a speculator, formerly a Dominican monk who broke with his order and wandered about Europe publishing controversial works, dabbling in a magical 'secret science' supposedly derived from ancient Egypt. In the end the Inquisition took him and after eight years in its hands he was burned at Rome for heresy. His execution became one of the foundations of the later historical mythology of the development of 'free thought', of the struggle between progress and religion as it was to become to be seen." (Roberts 1995: 660)


"The French formally abolished serfdom in 1789; this probably did not mean much, for there were few serfs in France at that date. The abolition of the 'feudal system' in the same year was a much more important matter. What was meant by this vague term was the destruction of a mass of traditional and legal usages and rights which stood in the way of the exploitation of land by individuals as an investment like any other." (Roberts 1995: 680)


14 February 2017

"The longest resistance to change in traditional legal forms in agriculture came in Russia. There, serfdom itself persisted until abolished in 1861." (Roberts 1995: 681)


18 February 2017

"Claude Saint-Simone. His seminal contribution to socialist thought was to consider the impact on society of technological and scientific advance. Saint-Simon thought that they not only made planned organization of the economy imperative, but implied (indeed demanded) the replacement of the traditional ruling classes, aristocratic and rural in their outlook, by élites representing new economic and intellectual forces. Such ideas influenced many thinkers (most of them French) who in the 1830s advocated greater egalitarianism; they seemed to show that on rational as well as ethical grounds such change was desirable." (Roberts 1995: 732)


5 March 2017

"From the intricate politics of the party there emerged eventually the ascendancy of a member of its bureaucracy, Joseph Stalin, a man far less attractive intellectually than either Lenin or Trotsky, equally ruthless, and of greater historical importance. Gradually arming himself with a power which he used against former colleagues and old Bolsheviks as willingly as against his enemies, he carried out the real Russian revolution to which the Bolshevik seizure of power had opened the way and created a new elite on which a new Russia was to be based. For him industrialization was paramount." (Roberts 1995: 875)


10 March 2017

"The 1911 revolution had been of enormous importance, but did not by itself end this eclipse. In principle, it marked an epoch far more fundamentally than the French or Russian revolutions: it was the end of more than two thousand years of history during which the Confucian state had held China together and Confucian ideals had dominated Chinese culture and society. Inseparably intertwined, Confucianism and the legal order fell together." (Roberts 1995: 883)

"Sun Yat-sen ... His conclusion was collectivist: 'On no account must we give more liberty to the individual.' he wrote, 'let us secure liberty instead for the nation.' This was to give new endorsement to the absence of individual liberty which had always been present in the Classical Chinese outlook and tradition.  (Roberts 1995: 890)

2 April 2017







LOMAS; K.  2005.  Rome and the Western Greeks, 350 BC - AD 200: Conquest and Acculturation in Southern Italy. London: Routledge/Taylor & Francis eBook. Found at Google Books on the Internet. Did not read the book.

NIETZSCHE; F.  1997.  Thus Spake Zarathustra.  Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Limited.

ROBERTS; J.M.  1995.  The Penguin History of the World.  London, England: Penguin Group, 3rd edition.